William and Mary - from A.D. 1689 to A.D. 1702.

One of the last acts of James was to send a fleet under the command of Lord Dartmouth to intercept that of William of Orange, which it was known was on the point of sailing. On board the Dutch fleet was Admiral Herbert, acting as commander-in-chief, though all the officers were Dutch. It was hoped that he would win over the English fleet. As it proved, both the officers and men of the navy were as ill-affected to James as were those of the army. Thus, as an old writer observes, “that naval force which James had cultivated with so much care, and on which he depended so much, proved of no use—so difficult a thing is it to bring Englishmen to enslave England.”

The Dutch fleet consisted of about 50 men-of-war, 25 fire-ships, and near 400 transports and victuallers and other vessels, carrying about 4000 horse and 10,000 foot. Admiral Herbert led the van of the fleet, Vice-Admiral Evertzen brought up the rear, and the prince himself was in the centre, carrying a flag with English colours, and their highnesses’ arms surrounded with this motto, “The Protestant Religion and the Liberties of England,” and underneath the motto of the House of Nassau, “Je Maintiendrai,” “I will maintain.”

After being driven back by a storm, the fleet came to an anchor in Torbay on the 4th of November. The prince wished to land that day, it being the one on which he was born and married, and he fancied that it would look auspicious to the army, and animate the soldiers, but the general wish was that he should not land till the following, being Gunpowder Treason day, that their landing on that day might have a good effect on the minds of the English. No sooner had the Dutch fleet got into harbour than a heavy storm sprang up from the westward, which compelled the English fleet to run into Portsmouth, from which they could not again issue till William had won the day. When Lord Dartmouth was able to leave the port he conducted the fleet to the Downs, and there holding council of war, it was resolved—first, to dismiss from their commands all such officers as were known to be papists, and then to send up an address to his highness setting forth their steady affection to the Protestant religion, and their sincere concern for the safety, freedom, and honour of their country.

Not long after this the ships were dispersed, some to the dockyards to be dismantled and laid up, others to be cleaned and repaired, and such as were in the best condition for sea were appointed for necessary services. The first service in which Admiral Herbert was employed was to endeavour to intercept the French fleet which had sailed for Ireland to support the landing of King James. On the 1st of May, 1689, the English admiral discovered the enemy’s ships at anchor in Bantry Bay; when the French stood out to sea in a well-formed line of battle to meet him. After a warm engagement of some hours the two fleets separated, when the French, claiming the victory, retired into Bantry Bay, and the English towards Scilly. After waiting for reinforcements in the chops of the channel, none arriving, Admiral Herbert returned to Portsmouth. Notwithstanding his ill-success, the king, in gratitude for the services he had before rendered him, created him Earl of Torrington, while Captains John Ashby, and Cloudesly Shovel were knighted. In 1690 Sir Cloudesly Shovel commanded a squadron of six men-of-war, which escorted the fleet of transports conveying King William’s forces to Carrickfergus, in Ireland. The Earl of Torrington, when in command of the combined English and Dutch squadrons in the channel, on the 30th of June, fell in with the French fleet commanded by the Count de Tourville between Cherbourg and the Isle of Wight. The combined fleets amounted to 56 ships only, while the French possessed 78 men-of-war and 22 fire-ships. The Dutch and Blue Squadrons being surrounded by the French, after making a gallant defence, were rescued by the Earl of Torrington. After this, finding that no impression could be made on the French fleet, it was decided in a council of war that it would be wiser to destroy the disabled ships than, by protecting them, hazard an engagement. The Anne, of 70 guns, which was dismasted, was forced on shore and destroyed. The enemy also attempted to destroy a Dutch 64 which was driven on shore, but her commander defended her with so much bravery, that he compelled the French to desist, and she, being got off, arrived safe in Holland. The earl then retreated into the Thames, leaving a few frigates to observe and watch the motions of the enemy, who remained masters of the channel. In consequence of his conduct, the earl was brought to a court-martial, but having ably defended himself, he was unanimously acquitted. The king, notwithstanding, to appease the clamours of the nation and the Dutch, took away his commission.

He was succeeded in the command of the fleet by Admiral Russell, who, greatly owing to the energetic proceedings of Queen Mary, while the king was absent in Ireland, had, by May, 1691, a squadron of considerable force, equipped and ready for sea, at his disposal. So elevated were the French at their unusual success, that they had the following inscription engraved on the stern of a new first-rate ship of war named the Saint Louis:—

“I, on the ocean, am the mightiest thing, As on the land, is my all-potent king.”

English men-of-war were ere long, however, to teach them to sing a different note. A fleet of ninety-nine sail, including the Dutch ships, was got ready by May, 1692. The English fleet was divided into two squadrons, the Red and the Blue. Among the ships we find the names of many which have become famous in naval history. There were six ships of 100 guns each. In the Red Squadron there was the Britannia, carrying the flag of Admiral Russell; the Royal Sovereign, that of Vice-Admiral Sir Ralph Delaval; the London, that of the rear-admiral, Sir Cloudesly Shovel; theSandwich, of 90 guns; the Swiftsure, Hampton Court, Eagle, and Captain; of 70; the Ruby, Oxford, and Centurion, of 50. In the Blue Squadron there were the Victory, of 100 guns, with the flag of Admiral Sir John Ashby; the Windsor Castle, with that of Vice-Admiral Sir George Rooke; theNeptune, of 96 guns; the Albemarle and Vanguard, of 90 guns; the Royal Oak, of 74; the Northumberland, Berwick, Warspight, Monmouth, andEdgar, of 70; the Lion and Dreadnought, of 60—names long known in the British Navy. Altogether, the English fleet carried 4504 guns, and 27,725 men. The Dutch fleet carried rather more than half the number of guns, and less than half the number of men. No more powerful fleet had ever yet ploughed the ocean—it was, probably, immeasurably more so than that which encountered the Spanish Armada; while the commanders were as expert and daring as their predecessors, the seamen were infinitely better trained.

The combined fleet sailed from Spithead on the 18th of May, and stood across to the coast of France. The Chester and Charles galleys, being sent ahead, just at dawn on the 19th, Cape Barfleur bearing south-west by south, distant about seven leagues, made the signal of the French fleet being in sight, by firing some guns. Admiral Russell thereon ordered his fleet to form a line of battle, and directed the rear to attack, so that, should the French stand to the northward, they might the sooner come up and engage. As the sun rose above the ocean on that May morning, soon after four o’clock, the enemy were seen standing southward, forming their line on the same tack as that of the allied squadrons. The French admiral, De Tourville, who had till now supposed that he was about to meet only a portion of the English fleet, nevertheless considering that their hasty retreat would cause a confusion which might prove more hazardous than the battle itself, continued his orders for the engagement, and bore down on the allies. Admiral Russell on seeing this, annulled the signal for the rear to attack, and bore away to join the leeward-most ships, and formed a line ahead in close order of sailing. The French advanced till within musket-shot of the English line, when, hauling up to windward, the Soleil Royal, at 11:30 a.m., opened fire upon the Britannia. De Tourville’s object was to cut through the English line, but in consequence of the light breeze having dwindled to a calm, in bearing up as he did the French admiral lost his advantage. The Soleil Royal and the Britannia thus lay for an hour and a quarter about three-quarter’s musket-shot of each other, the English plying their guns so warmly, that the Frenchman was in that time dreadfully cut up in his rigging, sails, and yards; it being evident, also, that he had lost a great many men, for no effort was being made to repair damages. So actively did the English gunners work their pieces, that it was reckoned that during the whole fight they fired at least three broadsides while the French fired two. Captains Churchill and Aylmer who had come up to assist the admiral, had six of the enemy’s largest ships to deal with; while Sir Cloudesly Shovel, who had got to windward, briskly plied the Count de Tourville’s squadron. As the day advanced, however, a dense fog came on, so that in a short time not a ship of the enemy could be seen, and the English, for fear of injuring their friends, ceased firing. The ships which had not yet got into action on account of the calm, had their boats ahead, and used their utmost endeavours to tow them into the fight. The English fire-ships had, however, been put to good use, having burnt four of the enemy’s ships. The killed and wounded were already numerous; the Eagle alone having 70 men killed and 150 wounded. Among the former were Rear-Admiral Carter, and Captain Hastings of the Sandwich.

Night coming on, the darkness, increased by the thick fog, put an end to the fight for that day. On the morning of the 10th a portion of the French fleet was discovered, when, the wind springing up, a general chase was ordered. This continued till 4 p.m., when, the wind shifting to the southward, and the ebb ceasing, both fleets anchored and furled sails.

On the 21st the fleet anchored near the Race of Alderney, Cape La Hogue, bearing about south. Twenty-three of the French ships had anchored still nearer the Race, and fifteen others about three leagues to the westward. The flood-tide setting in strong, a number of the French ships were observed to be driving; on this Admiral Russell threw out a signal to Vice-Admiral Delaval to stand inshore and destroy them. On following out his directions, he found the Soleil Royal and two others aground, close to the beach. Finding, however, that his ships drew too much water, he sent in three fire-ships, embarking in one of them himself. He succeeded in burning two of the three-deckers, but another fire-ship was sunk by the enemy’s shot. The Saint Albans and Ruby standing in, now attacked a third French ship, when Vice-Admiral Delaval, observing that her crew had deserted their guns, boarded. On finding dead and wounded men alone on her decks, he ordered the latter to be removed, and then set the ship on fire.

One of the fire-ships, commanded by Captain Fowlis, who was conducting her against the Soleil Royal, was set on fire by her shot, though he and his crew escaped. Captain Heath, however, succeeded in burning her with another fire-ship, in the most gallant manner. The Conquirant was burnt by Captain Greenaway, and the Admirable by the boats. The greater number of the enemy’s ships had run in for shelter close to the shore. Accordingly, on the 23rd of May, Admiral Russell despatched Vice-Admiral Rooke with a squadron of men-of-war, frigates, and fire-ships, and the boats of the fleet, to destroy those ships. It was found, however, that the small frigates alone could advance near enough to effect anything. The boats, however, gallantly led by Rooke, pulled in at night and destroyed seven of them, and the next morning, again pulling in, burnt eight, with several transports and ammunition vessels. Several of the ships were first boarded, and the French, with their own guns, driven from their platforms and batteries on shore; and this was done in sight of the French and Irish camps, which lay ready to invade England. Altogether, sixteen sail of the line and numerous transports were destroyed. The victory was complete, and the annihilation of the French fleet entirely dissipating the hopes of James, its effect contributed greatly to place William the Third on his throne. Vice-Admiral Rooke, who became one of England’s greatest admirals, was knighted for his gallantry on this occasion.

While some of the ships returned to Spithead, a considerable portion were stationed in different parts of the channel to watch the French fleet, and to prevent them making their way either to the eastward or westward.

Among the gallant men who have contributed to the naval glory of England, the name of John Benbow must ever be had in remembrance. His father, Colonel Benbow, was one of those true-hearted cavaliers who fought bravely for their king to the last, and having seen one of his brothers shot by the Parliamentary forces, he made his escape, till an amnesty being granted, he was able to return and live in private in England. His fortune having been expended, he was glad to accept a small office belonging to the Ordnance, in the Tower. On the breaking out of the first Dutch war, the king came to examine the magazines. Charles, whose memory was as quick as his eye, recognised the veteran, who had for twenty years been distinguished by a fine head of grey hair. “My old friend, Colonel Benbow,” said he, “what do you here?”

“I have,” returned the colonel, “a place of 80 pounds a-year, in which I serve your majesty as cheerfully as if it brought me in 4000 pounds a-year.”

“Alas!” said the king, “is that all that could be found for an old friend of Worcester? Colonel Legge, bring this gentleman to me to-morrow, and I will provide for him and his family as it becomes me.”

Short as the time was, the colonel did not live to claim the royal promise; for, overcome by the king’s unexpected gratitude, sitting down on a bench, he there breathed his last before his majesty was well out of the tower. Whatever might have been the king’s intentions, he thought no more of the old cavalier’s family, and the colonel’s son, John, went to sea in a merchant-vessel, and shortly became owner and commander of a ship, called the Benbow frigate. No man was better known or more respected by the merchants upon the Exchange. The following anecdote shows his character, and is in accordance with the spirit of the times in which he lived. In the year 1688 he was, while in command of the Benbowfrigate, attacked on his passage to Cadiz by a Sallee rover of far superior force, against which he defended himself with the utmost bravery. At last the Moors boarded him, but were quickly beaten out of his ship again with the loss of thirteen men, whose heads Captain Benbow ordered to be taken off, and thrown into a tub of pork pickle. On reaching Cadiz he went on shore, ordering a negro servant to follow him with the Moors’ heads in a sack. Scarcely had he landed when the officers of the revenue inquired of the servant what he had in his sack. The captain answered, “Salt provisions for his own use.”

“That may be,” answered the officers, “but we must insist upon seeing them.” Captain Benbow said that he was no stranger there, that he was not accustomed to run goods, and pretended to take it very ill that he was thus suspected. The officers told him that the magistrates were sitting not far off, and if they were satisfied, the servant might carry the provisions where he pleased. The captain consented to the proposal, and away they marched to the custom-house. The magistrates, when he came before them, treated Captain Benbow with great civility, telling him that they were sorry to make a point of such a trifle, but that since he refused to show the contents of his sack to their officers, they were compelled to demand a sight of them.

“I told you,” said the captain, sternly, “they were salt provisions for my own use. Cassar, throw them down upon the table; and, gentlemen, if you like them, they are at your service.”

The Spaniards were much struck at the sight of the Moors’ heads, and no less so at the account the captain gave them of his engagement, and defeat of so large a force of barbarians. They sent an account of the whole matter to the court at Madrid, and the King of Spain was so much pleased with it, that he requested to see the English captain, who made a journey to court, where he was received with much respect, and not only dismissed with a handsome present, but the king was to write a letter on his behalf to King James, who, upon his return, gave him a ship, which was his introduction to the Royal Navy.

He had always been looked upon as a bold, brave, and active commander, and one who, though he maintained strict discipline, took care of, and was therefore cheerfully obeyed by, his seamen. He maintained the same character in the Royal Navy, and was ever beloved and honoured by his ships’ companies. As the channel was much infested by French privateers, a large number of which were fitted out at Saint Malo, it had been considered advisable to destroy that town and the vessels within its harbour. Captain Benbow, with a squadron of twelve ships of the line, four bomb-galliots, ten or twelve frigates, and several sloops, having crossed the channel, entered the harbour and came to an anchor within half-a-mile of the town. The ships then opened fire, and continued battering away at the place till four in the morning, when they were compelled to come out to prevent grounding. Two successive days they continued doing the same, firing seventy bombs one day, but with frequent intermissions, inducing the inhabitants to believe that they were about to retire. The captain had, however, prepared a fire-ship, with which it was intended to have reduced the town to ashes. This vessel was a new galliot, of about 300 tons. In the bottom of the hold were placed above a hundred barrels of powder, covered with pitch, tar, resin, brimstone, and faggots. Over this was a row of thick planks or beams, with holes pierced through them in order to communicate the fire from above, and upon them were placed 340 carcases filled with grenadoes, cannon-balls, iron chains, firearms loaded with ball, large pieces of metal wrapped up in tarpaulins, and other combustible matters. This craft was sent in before the wind, and was near the very foot of the wall where it was to be fastened, when a sudden gust of wind drove it upon a rock, where it stuck, near the place where it was intended to have blown up. The engineer, however, had time to set fire to it before he retired. It blew up soon afterwards, but the carcases, which were to have done the greatest execution, being wet, did not take fire; yet the shock was so terrible, that it threw down part of the town wall, shook every house in the town, and overthrew the roofs of above 300 which were nearest. The capstan, weighing above a ton, was thrown over the wall on the top of a house, which it beat down. A similar machine had been used for blowing up the bridge at the siege of Antwerp in 1585.

In 1694 another expedition, under the command of Sir Cloudesly Shovel, was sent to the coast of Flanders, for the purpose of destroying the town of Dunkirk. Previous attacks had been made on the coast of France of a similar character. Mr Meesters, the inventor of some infernal machines, accompanied the expedition. He requested that a captain might be appointed to the command of the smaller craft, and Captain Benbow was accordingly directed to take command of the bomb-galliots and fire-ships. Owing to numerous delays, the French having got notice of the intended attack, had time to make preparations for defeating it, which resulted in the loss of several ships. Dieppe, however, had been bombarded, when 1100 bombs and carcases were thrown into it with such success, that the town was set on fire in several places, and the townsmen and some regiments sent to their assistance had to beat a rapid retreat.

An infernal machine, such as has before been described, was blown up at the pierhead. It made a frightful noise, but did little execution, occasioned, as was supposed, by the pierhead lying too low. The fuzee having gone out, Captain Dunbar, who commanded the vessel, again went on board and set fire to it in the most gallant manner.

Havre-de-Grâce was likewise bombarded, when the town was set in flames. Bad weather coming on, the bomb-vessels were ordered off, the mortars being either melted or the vessels so shattered, that no present use could be made of them. One of them, the Granado, was entirely blown to pieces by a bomb, which fell into her. It was it hoped, however, that Sir Cloudesly’s expedition would be more successful. Notwithstanding a heavy fire from a French frigate in the roads, from numerous forts, and from five other frigates near the basin, Captain Benbow carried his vessels and boats close up to the town, and came off again in the night without any damage. The next day, the weather being fair, the boats and vessels were again sent in, when the French frigate, after firing her broadside, ran in to the pier. In the afternoon, two infernal machines were blown up at a little distance from the pierhead, but without doing any damage, except to the crew of the boat which towed them in, who were all blown up on board. The French, also, having driven piles outside the pierheads, and sunk four ships, it was found impossible to approach nearer the town, and the undertaking was therefore abandoned. This is one of the many instances which prove that fire-ships, if resolutely met by the enemy against whom they are intended to act, are not capable of effecting much damage.

A remarkable instance of promotion for gallant conduct occurred early in the reign of William and Mary. On the 25th of March, 1689, the 36-gun frigate Nonsuch, Captain Roome Coyle, fell in with two French ships, one mounting 30, the other 22 guns, off Guernsey. He without hesitation engaged them, when he and the master being killed, and there being no lieutenant on board, the boatswain, Robert Simcock, took the command. So spiritedly did the brave boatswain continue the action, that both French ships were captured. For his gallant conduct Mr Simcock, on reaching Portsmouth with his prize, was forthwith promoted to the rank of captain, and appointed to command the Nonsuch.

Next year a ship called the Friends’ Adventure, belonging to Exeter, was captured by a French privateer, who took out of her the master and five of his men, leaving on board only the mate, Robert Lyde, of Topsham, twenty-three years of age, and John Wright, a boy of sixteen, with seven Frenchmen, who had orders to navigate the ship to Saint Malo. When off Cape la Hogue, a strong wind springing up, drove them off the French coast. Lyde now began to entertain hopes of recovering the ship, and on the 6th of March he and his companion took the opportunity, while two of the Frenchmen were at the pump, one at the helm, one on the forecastle, and three asleep in the cabin, to attack them. Lyde with an iron crowbar killed one of the men at the pump, and knocked down the other at one blow. Wright at the same moment knocked down the man on the forecastle, and they then secured the man at the helm. One of the Frenchmen hearing a scuffle, and running up from between decks to the assistance of his companions, was wounded by the mate, but the two others coming to his relief seized and had nearly secured the gallant fellow, when the boy, bravely hurrying to his aid, after a sharp struggle, killed one and gave the other quarter. Having thus made themselves masters of the ship, they put the two disabled men into bed, ordering a third to look after them, and secured them between decks. One they kept bound in the steerage, and made use of the remaining man to navigate the vessel, which, on the 9th of March, they brought safely into Topsham, with their five prisoners on board.

About the same time the sloop Tryal was captured by a French man-of-war, who put five Frenchmen on board, leaving only the master, Richard Griffiths, afterwards Captain Griffiths, commonly known by the name of “Honour and Glory,” and a boy, John Codamon, in the sloop. Griffiths and his boy having formed their design, suddenly set upon the five Frenchmen, and, having wounded three and forced all five down into the hold, carried their vessel with their prisoners safe into Falmouth.

I give these instances to show the stuff out of which the commanders and crews of men-of-war were formed in those days. They show, also, that the authorities who governed the navy appreciated bravery, and were ready to obtain the services of such gallant fellows for the advantage of the country.

We find fire-ships at this period universally sent to sea with fleets. Sir Francis Waller, on board the Sussex, was ordered to proceed to Cadiz, and from thence to convoy the merchant-vessels he might find there to Turkey or any ports in Spain or Italy. His fleet consisted of fifteen third-rates, seven fourth-rates, one fifth-rate, six fire-ships, two bomb-vessels, a hospital-ship, and a store-ship in company with several Dutch ships of war. Having touched at Gibraltar, he again put to sea, and met with gales of wind; and ultimately, in thick weather, he with part of his fleet running to the straits mistook the entrance. The Sussex, with 550 men on board, foundered, two Moors only escaping. The admiral’s body was afterwards discovered on shore much mangled. Besides this loss, 409 were drowned belonging to various ships which were either driven on shore or foundered. Among them was the Cambridge, a ship of 70 guns, and the Lumley Castle.

On most occasions the fire-ships, being generally old vessels fit for no other purpose, were the chief sufferers. A Dutch ship of 70 guns ran on shore, but was got off again, as were several other ships; indeed, few escaped without much damage. This was the most violent storm that had ever been known in those seas since the memory of man.

William was now taking measures for retrieving the honour of the British Flag, and appointed Admiral Russell commander-in-chief of the navy, and several other eminent officers to form a new commission of admiralty. He also, finding that the pay of sea-officers was less than that of other countries, directed that the sea pay of flag-officers, commanders, lieutenants, masters, and surgeons should be doubled; as also that all flag-officers and captains of first, second, third, fourth, and fifth-rate ships, and also the masters of first, second, and third-rates, who had served a year in the same post in the ships of those rates, or been in a general engagement, should have half-pay while on shore, to be paid quarterly out of the general estimate of the navy. From this it is evident that they before this time, as also those of other ranks, received no half-pay while on shore. It was also ordered that only such commissioned officers as had been put in by the Admiralty, and warrant officers as had been put in by the Navy Board, should receive the benefit of half-pay; that half-pay officers be expected to assist the Navy Board; that no convoy money be demanded or received under the penalty of forfeiting and losing employment for ever; that the commanders transmit to the Admiralty when and why they came into port.

The French had not abandoned their design of restoring James the Second to the throne. He had abdicated, and in 1696, while most of the British ships were laid up, and the rest were employed in the protection of the trade up the Mediterranean, it was discovered that 500 transports were in Dunkirk ready to take on board an army of 20,000 men, under the escort of fifteen sail of men-of-war, for the invasion of England. While these preparations were making, and every ship was of consequence, the Royal Sovereign, laid up at Chatham to be rebuilt, took fire, and was totally consumed. She was the first great ship that ever was built in England. The great object then was only to exhibit as much splendour and magnificence as possible. In the reign of Charles the Second, however, being taken down a deck lower, she became one of the best men-of-war in the world, and so formidable to her enemies, that none of the most daring among them would willingly lie by her side. She had been in almost all the great engagements that had been fought between England and Holland, and in the last fight between the English and French, when she compelled the Soleil Royal to fly for shelter among the rocks. At length, leaky and defective with age, she was laid up at Chatham, in order, as has been said, to be rebuilt.

In the year 1691 the first mention is made of a regular regiment of marines being raised to serve on board ship. In this year one dry and two wet docks were ordered to be constructed at Portsmouth, and orders were given to survey the harbour of Falmouth, and report whether it was capable of being made a proper port for the refitting and docking ships of the Royal Navy.

It was not till the year 1693 that men-of-war on the home service were allowed to carry to sea spare topmasts and sails.

In 1694 the king, by the advice of the excellent Queen Mary, granted the royal palace of Greenwich to be converted into a hospital for decayed seamen in the Royal Navy. Sir Christopher Wren was appointed as architect, and an annual sum of money was granted to complete and extend the buildings. The foundation of the first new building was laid on the 3rd of June, 1696.

In the same year the landmark on the beach at Stoke, near Gosport, called the Kicker, was erected, and the buoy of the horse placed at Spithead, for the better security of ships going into Portsmouth Harbour. Some docks were made at Plymouth, and storehouses, as also residences for the accommodation of the officers of the dockyard, were built.

In 1695 brass box-compasses were invented and allowed to the ships in the Royal Navy. Many ships having been wrecked upon the Eddystone Rock off Plymouth, an application was made to the Trinity House to erect a lighthouse on it, which was begun to be built in 1696, and was finished in three years. Many masters and owners of ships agreed to pay one penny per ton outwards and inwards, to assist in defraying the expense.

In 1696 an Act of Parliament was passed to establish a register for 30,000 seamen, to be in readiness at all times for supplying the Royal Navy. They were to have a bounty of forty shillings yearly. None but such registered seamen were to be preferred to the rank of commissioned or warrant officers in the Royal Navy. They were likewise entitled to a double share in all prizes, and when maimed or superannuated, were admitted into Greenwich Hospital. The widows and children of such registered seamen who might be killed in the service were admissible into that hospital. It was also enacted that sixpence per month should be deducted from the wages of all seamen both in the merchant-service as well as in the Royal Navy, for the support of Greenwich Hospital.

A composition was invented to be laid on the bottoms of ships to preserve them against worms. The experiment was ordered to be tried on his majesty’s ship the Sheerness.

In 1696 the Parliament voted 2,372,197 pounds for the maintenance of 40,000 seamen and two regiments of marines, the ordinary of the navy, and the charge of the registry of seamen. This was the largest sum by far hitherto voted for the maintenance of the navy.

In 1697 Commissioner Greenhill proposed a plan for rowing of ships in a calm, which was tried on board His Majesty’s ship the Experiment.

In 1700 the rate of pay of sea-officers was again reduced. It was far less than that of the French; the French admiral having 1500 pounds per annum for his table-money, whereas the English admiral had only 365 pounds, no allowance whatever being made to other admirals, unless commanders-in-chief.

For several years the West Indies and Spanish Main had been infested by the buccaneers, who plundered without distinction the ships of all nations, but particularly those of the Spaniards. Several were taken, among the most notorious of whom was Captain Kidd, who, being brought to England and tried at the Old Bailey, was fully convicted, and executed with several of his companions. The immense property which Kidd had amassed was given for the support of Greenwich Hospital. The Earl of Bellamont, Governor of New England, and others, were accused in Parliament of favouring Kidd, and giving him a commission, but the charges were refuted.

On the 25th of July, 1701, a new Royal Sovereign, of 110 guns, was launched at Woolwich. She was the largest ship in the navy, the length of her keel was 146 feet 6 inches, and from the top of the taffrail to the fore-part of the figure-head, 210 feet 7 inches; her extreme breadth being 54 feet 3 and a half inches.

Several actions exhibiting extraordinary courage, performed during the war with France, are worthy of notice. On the 30th of May, 1695, William Thompson, master of a fishing-boat belonging to Poole, in Dorsetshire, with a crew of one man and a boy, observed a French sloop privateer standing towards him. He had but two swivel guns and a few muskets; the privateer had two guns, several small-arms, and sixteen men. Thompson, finding that his small crew were ready to support him, made up his mind to do battle with the Frenchman. As she approached, he began blazing away, and in a short time wounded the captain, and mate, and six men of the privateer, upon which she sheered off. Thompson on this made chase, and so skilfully did he manage his little craft, and with so much determination keep up his fire, that after engaging the privateer for two hours, she struck. On his arrival at Poole with his prize, he was warmly received, and the Lords of the Admiralty, hearing of his gallantry, presented him with a gold chain and a medal of the value of 50 pounds.

Another fishing-vessel, belonging to Whitesand, commanded by a Mr Williams, falling in with some merchant-vessels which had been captured by French privateers, attacked them with so much courage and skill, that he retook the whole. He received the same reward as had Mr Thompson.

Not long afterwards a coasting sloop, the Sea Adventure, commanded by Peter Jolliffe, fell in, off Portland, with a French privateer, which was in the act of taking possession of a small fishing-vessel belonging to Weymouth. The privateer endeavoured to escape, when Jolliffe made sail in chase, and coming up, briskly opened his fire, when he compelled her to release her prize. Not content with this success, he continued the fight, and at length drove her on shore in Lulworth Bay. The seafaring population of the village hurrying out, captured the privateer, and made prisoners of her crew.

Just before the close of the war, Captain William Jumper, commanding the Weymouth, engaged and sank the Fougueux, a French 48-gun ship, and shortly afterwards he fell in with another French 50-gun ship, but in the heat of the engagement, some powder on board the Weymouth blew up the poop, and disabled her for further immediate action. Having repaired damages, Captain Jumper again closed with the enemy, but unhappily his bowsprit and three lower-masts fell overboard, when the French ship made sail and escaped. On the 19th of the following August he fell in with a sail to leeward, between the island of Cloune and Saint Martins. He immediately ran down, hoisting the French ensign, and yawing a little to show it. Another French frigate at anchor under the castle, weighed and stood off. The first man-of-war, suspecting the character of the stranger, made sail, but the Weymouth, outsailing her, got close under her lee, keeping his French ensign flying to prevent the enemy from firing at his masts till he was near enough. He then hoisted the English ensign and poured in a broadside, and commenced bracing his main-topsail back; when, before he had fired off a second round, the enemy, which proved to be L’Amore, of Rochefort, a king’s ship, struck her colours. The other ship, seeing the fate of her consort, escaped. The prize was a vessel similar to an English galley. She carried 20 guns on the upper-deck, and 9 on the lower-deck, but 4 on the quarter-deck, and between decks she had small ports for oars.